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Flash Fiction Friday: Talk Nice to Me

by Eric LaRocca

The soles of his custom-made patent leather Oxfords click anxiously on the tiled floor of the doctor’s exam room. Jonathan McCoy can scarcely contain his delight. His hand rests on his wife’s thigh as he sits beside her, rubbing her leg, his fingers occasionally harassing the hem of her flower-print skirt. She doesn’t seem to mind. Her concentration is focused on the male practitioner, maybe 5’9 and gowned in a knee-length white coat. He stands beside the screen and points to the MRI scan of her brain glorified on the wall. Jonathan notices Colleen’s eyes water as the practitioner speaks and animatedly gestures to the monitor.

The highlighted photograph looks like a fileted jellyfish; a small round nugget of silvery whiteness, perhaps the size of a moth, noticeably lines the periphery of the organ. Jonathan’s ears do not seem to register the doctor’s words as his mouth moves, instead silence blaring between the openings of his lips; infrequently his auditory system records the word “malignant.” He catches the words: “atypical,” “surgery,” “chemotherapy,” and “futile” as well. His entire body loosens with joy; one instrument of his anatomy in particular seems to harden with enthusiasm, imagining her body’s throbbing kernel of discomfort. He thinks of deleting his online handle, cyst_licker_69, from the frequently visited chatrooms.

He reaches for Colleen’s hand and her grip is weak. Biting his lip, anxious for her attention, Jonathan unfortunately goes wanting. He admires her head – her perfect head – and studies the arrangement of hair, neatly pulled back in a bun. The stiffness in his trousers toughens as he imagines a small and orderly arranged aperture ventilating her left temple and advertising her cerebrum. The very idea of the integrity of her head’s organ spoiled by a minute knob of tissue only excites his growing erection more. Her cranium seems to bloat with the prospect of unlimited variations of sexuality.

She does not say much during the car ride back to the apartment on the Upper West Side. Only a few grunts and one word answers regarding her headache. She has always been one to talk to herself. But, not today. The silence is unbearable for Jonathan. He notices how the corners of her eyes collect water and her mascara clots in thick lumps.

Talk nice to me,” he hears in an unfamiliarly feminine voice.

He turns and the door to the bathroom closes, Colleen on the other side.

“Did you say something?” he asks.

Jonathan hears nothing other than the vehement arguing of taxi cab horns outside down on 73rd Street. The toilet flushes and Colleen opens the door.

“Don’t you have to be back down at the office?” she says, passing by him.

He loosens his tie, flexing his esophagus. “They can wait.”

Jonathan observes Colleen as she sits at the edge of the bed and kicks off her heels. He notices her flagrant preoccupation with reviewing his leather wallet resting on the nightstand, more importantly the small circular indentation pressing outward along the fold that’s about the size of his wedding band. She turns and he’s too late to hide his naked finger, undressed from several nightly meetings with bald women who hide small round secrets in their breasts and brains. Sometimes men as well, who keep similar unrevealed truths in their rectums.

“Don’t let me keep you,” she says.

He gently approaches her. “You don’t mind if I stay, do you?”

Colleen says nothing.

Jonathan sits beside her, mouth parting with the intent of words but eventually merely eliminating an exhalation. His hands are awkward and tremble, unsure where to begin. He rests one on her shoulder and she turns from him. He leans closer, pressing his lips against the nape of her neck, and drawing in her scent through his nostrils.

Talk nice to me,” he hears again.

“I will,” he moans, running his mouth along the extent her collar.

Colleen turns, seemingly bewildered. “What–?”

Jonathan’s mouth is far too preoccupied with her ear to offer an answer. His hands are already beneath her skirt and playfully teasing the knots of pubic hair. He presses his mouth to her face and frenziedly pecks her cheek, forehead, and lips. Dragging down her panties, he tours his finger around her frowning womanhood, brings his thumb to his nose, and violently inhales the dampness of her musk. She rakes her head back on the cushions, making soft cooing noises, visibly enthralled with the pleasure and yet thoughtful to discourage herself to indulge completely in the activity. He unzips his trousers and holds his erection with both hands, envisioning the small lump in her brain quivering the way her clitoris does under correct stimulation. Although he expects she might, she does very little to oppose him as he mounts her. He massages her nose and forehead with the length of his shaft, his appliance finally reaching her temple. His entire body shudders on the brink of orgasm.

Talk nice to me,” he hears again; this time the disembodied voice as fine and as trill as a whistle.

It’s then that he notices the left side of her cranium bloat exaggeratedly as though a balloon were expanding from the inside of her skull. Although nothing can discourage Jonathan from concluding the extent of his pleasure, his senses otherwise impaired by the ecstasy of satisfaction are perceptive enough to appreciate Colleen’s anguish as a portion of her head continues to swell.

“Wait–!” she sobs, her voice trembling with panic as she squirms beneath the heaviness of his body.

Colleen heaves Jonathan off of her and sprints from the bed to the washroom, occasionally scowling in unadulterated agony, the intense pressure of cranial inflation observably unbearable and remarkable in its profoundness. Jonathan rushes after her, grabbing and pulling at her dress. She screams, sobbing, as she catches the embellished nature of her distended skull in the bathroom mirror. Jonathan throws his naked body at her and she swings both arms at him, shouting until hoarse. She turns again to admire the deformity and her footing is unbalanced. She cries out and her wildly thrashing arms go limp as her head slams against the rim of the toilet. Her body is still, head draining redness all over the tiled floor. Jonathan turns her over and admires the vent perverted along the side of her head. Cartilage and puffy tumefaction bulge furiously from the yawning maw. Most notably ornamenting the rubbery looking matter is a bulbous wad of otherwise unnatural distension. Jonathan’s penis has not weakened in its stiffness; in fact, it’s harder than ever as he lovingly admires the tumor in its glistening brilliance. Shutting his eyes, he guides his quivering manhood into the outlet and begins to massage the plump tissue already lubricated with blood.

His entire body palpitates in euphoria as his pelvis rocks back and forth against the side of her head, the wetness of blood dripping from her hair occasionally tickling the sensitivity of his testicles. As he strokes his erection against the tumor one final time, the duct of his urethra opens and violently launches fat buttery globs of cream all over the exposed colorless tissue and splintered bone. He moans as he strokes the last of the discharge from his tube, smearing it in the grooves of her unprotected brain matter.

Suddenly, he hears it again.

Talk nice to me.

His eyes return to the tumor, three times larger in size than when previously observed, drenched in blood and wet ribbons of ejaculate.

“What–?”

He feels foolish speaking as his holds his sagging erection in one hand.

The tumor stirs in its place with a jellied gurgle. Its voice is infant-like. “Will you talk nice to me?”

Jonathan lowers his head, bringing his hands closer to the shiny fat wad of material. The growth seems to twitch excitedly at the anticipation of his touch.

“She talked nice to me,” it says, wiggling in the pulp of exposed oily material. “She was sweet to me. She can’t take care of me now, though. But you can. Right?”

Its impish articulation curls as though genuinely hopeful Jonathan might.

He holds out his hand and the clump slides from the channel of brain matter right into his open palm. It squirms gleefully as he holds it and carries it toward the bed where he rests it on a small pillow. The tumor wriggles, giggling merrily as it rolls onto the cushion.

“You have to talk to me,” it demands. “If you don’t, my cells will weaken and I’ll die. If you talk, I’ll give you whatever you want.”

“What – what should I say?” Jonathan stammers.

“Tell me a story,” it says. “Anything you like.”

Jonathan opens his mouth and says whatever comes to his mind. He speaks for hours and hours on end; the tumor merely sits, listens, and occasionally chuckles, bouncing with laughter.

In the morning, Jonathan wakes to a putrid smell drifting from the bathroom. All that is left on the cushion is a small ringlet of blood and semen detailing where the tiny growth had once been. It’s nowhere to be found. Jonathan’s nostrils flare again at the reminder of his dead wife. He cannot be bothered with that now.

He swallows an aspirin.

Nothing seems to soothe the intense pressure within his head. It feels as though his brain might explode.

He brings his hand to his ear and his fingers are wet with small beads of blood. His canal feels loosened, enflamed with redness, as though something has just crawled inside.

—–

Eric LaRocca is a writer and long-time admirer of the grotesque and the bizarre. Although only 21 years old, he has had the privilege of having some of his short fiction published in several magazines in the US and the UK such as Dark Moon Digest, Massacre Magazine, Sanitarium, and The Horror Zine. He has also been featured in anthologies such as Of Devils and Deviants: An Anthology of Erotic Horror (Crowded Quarantine Publications). He currently studies at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, CT.

99 Days Until Halloween!

Hello Bizarros! I’m working less and feeling the Halloween buzzzz. This means that Twisted Tuesdays will return next week, followed by the annual Chaos Countdown. So tune in because I have a lot of weird, crazy, creepy shit to share with you!

In the meantime, have a Bizarro Photoblast to whet your whistle!

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Show Me Your Shelves: Jessica McHugh

I can’t remember when I “met” Jessica McHugh online, but her good attitude, constant hustle, and sense of humor made her one of those folks I like keeping in touch with despite the fact that we’ve never shared a beer. In a nutshell, Jessica’s one of those cool writers who make the indie scene a pleasure. She takes care of her own work constantly, but still finds time to share the love with her “inky cohorts.” In any case, all that taking care of business has lead to a few books in different genres, and one of them is perfect for the crowd that usually drops by Bizarro Central. Check out what she had to say.

GI: Who are you and what role do books play in your life?

JM: I’m a chick who will never stop playing make-believe. As hard as it can be generating unique plots, as poor as I am, as stressful as deadlines are, as slumped and swamp-assy as I get sitting in a computer chair for ten hours, I’m eternally, unapologetically, head-over-heels in love with writing. It’s the most fun work ever, and you better believe my swampass is going to explore as many parts of the playground as possible.

You can probably gather that books are essential to my overall well-being and happiness. Whether I’m playing make-believe in my own worlds or giving myself over to someone else’s creations, I need books for entertainment and education—in and outside of my career. That being said, I tend to read slowly these days due to overall exhaustion and lack of time. I think a lot of writers get shamed for not reading enough—and that “enough,” of course, is based on another person’s reading speed and timetable. But I submit that you just have to read as much as you can. It’s great if “as much as you can” means you read five novels a month. It’s great if it means you read one novel a month. It’s great if you take a few months to read a short story anthology filled with a variety of tales and writers. As long as you’re making an effort, the books will forgive you. Books are cool like that.

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GI: You write everything. Do you change magic hats to painlessly switch genres? Do you sacrifice mythological beings in order to write funny stuff, eat a sandwich, and then write about bad things?

JM: I’m afraid I’m somewhat ignorant when it comes to this answer. I don’t know how it happens. I don’t who or what flips the switch. I just know it happens when I need it to, and as long as I keep paying the Goblin Lord in enchanted chocolate doubloons, everything will be just fine.

Or maybe it’s because I trained myself to switch projects/genres/POVs, just like I trained myself to write in various locations and noise levels. When I decide it’s time to put away the young adult novel for a while and write some seriously fucked up horror, my brain usually obeys because I’ve conditioned it to do so. But there are exceptions. Occasionally, I’ll hit mental blocks when I’m switching genres, so I find it helps to change my physical location. I’ll move from my Writing Hut to the living room or to a restaurant—any place that changes the scenery, clears my head, and prepares me to embark on this new journey.

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GI: You seem to have the social media platform thing down. Any tips for newbies? Words of advice for folks who invite me to their release party in Manila on a Tuesday night? How much time do you usually invest on your online presence? Are the days of the secretive Pynchon-esque figure officially over?

JM: I hear pretty frequently that I’m adept at social media, but honestly, I’m just being my normal annoying self. Readers have always wanted to be friendly with their favorite authors, to know what makes them tick instead of merely assuming from their fiction, and social media provides us with that opportunity. I’m just taking advantage of that desire and my natural ability to be a loudmouth. Personally, I think writers need to let down their walls—or bust them to rubble, actually—to infuse their characters with honest thoughts and emotions. Doing that ensured that I no longer have a filter when I write (though I screw the filter back in place when it comes to editing), so I often don’t filter myself online or in person, either. It can get me into trouble, no doubt, but I think I come off okay most of the time. There are definitely people who hate pretty much everything about me, especially my fondness for using the word “cunt,” but I’m learning to ignore those hateful comments. When it comes down to it, I’ve never been that secretive about my personal life, and I’ll admit my proclivity to being a bit of an attention whore, so I’m naturally comfortable being an open book to my readers.

So…tips? Be yourself. That’s what people want, and being yourself is healthy for you, too! If you’re shy or scared to be so unguarded online, tell your followers that. We all have different personalities, different truths and stories to convey, which is what makes this such a magical time to create and share your art with the world. Being honest about your fears and doubts, celebrating your accomplishments, owning up to your mistakes, or encouraging your fellow artists might be outside of your comfort zone, but I swear to you, those anxieties are nothing compared to the joy you feel when people tell you something you wrote or posted had a positive effect on their lives.

Obviously, there are lines you shouldn’t cross on social media, and there are things you can do to make sure your posts/links get seen, but a lot of that is trial and error. It just takes time and effort, like everything else in the writing world.

Oh, and I can’t deny that a part of me would love to disappear with a typewriter and a case of wine and spend my days writing novel after novel in solitude. But I think I’d survive about six months before I cracked. I’d definitely need someone to step in and tell me it’s time to shower and rejoin society.

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GI: If the house is burning down and you have to run out only with the books you can carry, which books make it?

JM: If I’m being logical, I guess I’d have to grab the least replaceable books. So I’d gather all my work-in-progress stuff, then I’d scoop up my autographed Peter S. Beagle books because they’re all in one place. But if there’s a damn fire, I doubt I’d be thinking very logically, so I’d probably only get away with “Zombie Butts from Uranus.” It’s a classic in its own right, I suppose.

GI: What’s The Green Kangaroos about and why should weird lit lovers get to the clicking and buy a copy as soon as they’re done reading this?

JM: “The Green Kangaroos” is a filthy fun adventure through the world an unremorseful drug addict named Perry Samson. Perry would like nothing more than for his concerned family to ditch their concern so he can continue shooting atlys into his balls, but they can’t let him do that when there are rehab avenues not yet explored. One such avenue is the Sunny Daye Institute, which begins Perry and his family down a perilous, and possibly deceptive, road to recovery that takes them from 2099 Baltimore to Antarctica and into the fantastically horrid nature of addiction itself.

This novel from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing was the most fun writing experience of my life so far. I don’t know if it was playing a first person male character, that Perry himself was so delightful disgusting, or because of the dazzling genre goulash this book became, but crafting “The Green Kangaroos” felt like a joyride in stolen car—if said car was rusted and smelled like rotten hotdog water. It was revolting, but it was freeing. This book also served as a way for me to forgive the trespasses made by an addict in my own life, so even though it’s not a direct representation of those events, it will always be close to my heart because of my past. I didn’t expect it, but “The Green Kangaroos” quickly became my favorite world in the McHughniverse.

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Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of Gutmouth, Hungry Darkness, and a few other things no one will ever read. You can find him on Twitter at@Gabino_Iglesias

Flash Fiction Friday: Inflate

by Frank J. Edler

To dream that you are inflating something represents intellect, awareness, knowledge and a higher power. Alternatively, it may symbolize your inflated ego or inflated sense of self.

The yogi cradled my lifeless vessel in his arms. He was gentle and caring like a guardian; tender and intense like a lover. Like a newly smitten lover he promised me Nirvana on the tranquil stretch of beach where we met only moments ago.

“Not like the Kurt Cobain kind, either.” he quipped in a thick Indian accent.

I didn’t understand the joke.

He began to man-handle me. I was tossed this way and that, fumbled around like a scrap of paper that he was scanning, eager to find important information. He found what he was looking for near my right buttock. I could feel him fiddle with my polyurethane skin. I felt pulling and pinching sensations but they were vague like the prodding of a dentist after a severe Novocaine injection.

Then, in an instant I felt open to new possibilities. I was open, ready for him to fill me with his spirit and mind. I didn’t know why the switch turned on so sudden. He told me there were truths of life which I must understand. I gave him my undivided attention.

“Life is inherently painful, my love. That is the first truth.” His tone was that of a stern lover.

“Suffering stems from our attachment to possessions, relationships and life.” he continued.

That truth shook me to my air-locked core. My yogi love was telling me the pain I could not yet feel was caused by my attachment to him. I was confused but held faith in his masculine voice to guide me.

After he allowed me a moment to consider the first two truths, he went on, “Enlightenment and happiness can be achieved if we let go of our attachments and desire to control the things around us. The ultimate state of which is Nirvana.”

“Not the Kurt Cobain kind either.” he added once again as an aside.

Still, I did not understand the joke.

“The fourth truth is that we must follow the Noble Eightfold Path if we are to achieve Nirvana.”

I said nothing. I couldn’t.

Then he placed his lips to my ass where he had been manipulating. A kiss on ground zero of my open soul. And he blew.

My body began to take for from its deflated, two-dimensional form. I was a long way from full but I was on my way.

After the first filling breath, he took his lips from the stem protruding from my buttock. His breath had carried a part of him inside of me. The warm wind that swirled within me whispered, “First, you must accept the four truths and accept life empty of expectations.” This knowledge married itself to me, a thing I did not know a moment ago was now emblazoned in my psyche.

He pressed his lips to the stem on my buttock once more and breathed.

The breath told me the second of the Noble Eightfold Path was to lead my life refrained from manipulation. With the knowledge my body felt fuller still.

Another breath, another truth. Moral discipline, right speech, right action all were revealed to me as each successive breath fill out my true form.

I began to feel like a person. I began to feel my body. I began to feel enlightened.

The six breath he exhaled into me taught me to live a life by the right effort. The seventh breath was right mindfulness. I was nearly full. I felt alive and aware. I was on the verge of something fantastic. I had come so far from the box I was trapped within only moments before.

The yogi rescued me from my prison. He showed me an open life and vast love. I was formless, lifeless, plastic and unaware. Now I was but one step from Nirvana. And not the Kurt Cobain kind, whatever the fuck that meant.

The yogi inhaled deep and with purpose for his eighth and final breath. He placed his lips to the stem protruding from my ass and let loose his life giving air into my body. I filled until my seams stretched. My curves filled out fully. From head to toe I was complete. I knew the eighth and final step: right concentration.

The yogi placed my bare feet on the ground. I would have wished for toes to curl in the hot sand but my enlightenment taught me to give up want for such Earthly things. Instead I breathed in my own breath and appreciated all there was to appreciate without want for anything more perfect than I already was.

“Felicia,” the Yogi said to me taking me hand, “you are complete. Now we can complete the universe, together. That is what the universe has called us together for.”

He extended his weathered hand to take my fingerless hand in his. He did not see me for the plastic inflatable love doll that I was. The yogi saw me as a completion of the universe. He the beginning and I the end. We joined hands and completed the circuit of the universe. In turn, the universe opened a bright, white doorway on the beach for us to walk though.

A hand extended out through the white light, inviting us in. We walked through that portal, hand in hand, accepting whatever Nirvana had in store for us.

“Welcome,” the light spoke as we entered it, “my name is Kurt Cobain.”

——

Frank J. Edler is the author of SCARED SILLY, five frighteningly funny tales to tickle your funny bone. His stories can also be found in Still Dying 2, Strange Versus Lovecraft, Strange Fucking Stories as well as the State of Horror anthologies. His writing spans Horror to Bizzaro and points in between.

He is also co-host of the wildly popular podcast Books, Beer and Bullshit. His podcasting antics can be heard at http://booksbeerbullshit.podbean.com or the companion blog http://booksbeerblogshit.blogspot.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@NJMetal), Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FrankJEdler and read his own blog, Opinions Are Like Assholes And I Have One at http://FrankJEdler.Blogspot.Com

Look for Frank’s first full length novel, Brats In Hell, late 2015.

Flash Fiction Friday: Loving Hands of Professionals

by Julia Long

There was a little it inside of Shem’s chest cavity.
A pine cone, in his chest cavity.
A disgusting little pine cone.
The little chest pine cone was made of nubile naked skin.
The little skin pine cone in Shem’s heart caught hellfire.
It.

Shem was taking a creepy bath.

A lot about it was creepy. The lights were off in every room in his apartment except the one he was in and there was a dollhouse version of this in his mind’s eye with a little Shem dummy in the imagined tub. In this imaginary version the Shem dummy kept slowly sinking beneath the water line, then silently, willingly drowning. Shem was trying to keep the downright dirty drowning fantasy under control. He kept forcing himself to picture other things but that was always in the background, if veil-thin.

Shem started looking up ‘John Wayne Gacy art’ on Google Images with his SmartPhone. It turned out John Wayne Gacy had painted a lot in jail. A lot of exactly what you’d expect. Images of clowns, clowns with children. One that showed how he ‘became’ the clown (Pogo), his transformation. There were a few standouts though, one of the Seven Dwarves as baseball players. It was chaos, some art dealer had actually gotten a bunch of famous baseball players to sign it without telling them what they were signing.

Shem was hoping the John Wayne Gacy art would help his God Sized Hole situation. He was forever doing this, trying to find ways to stuff or fill or patch his God Sized Hole with art, entertainment, thoughts and food and people. Baths and showers, Tarlov cysts.

Shem listened for the spies in his apartment.

He listened so hard he manufactured footsteps in reality with the power of his sense of self.

It felt like his sense of self was spreading a little too far outside his ears.

He could see it in his mind’s eye slowly coming out his head, colored and fluid-looking, like a tornado on a radar. It looked very thick and like something that might hurt him. Some inches, yeah, too far out from where it should be in both directions. It should really be confined to just his skull, that’s what Shem would’ve needed to be comfortable. It was like being on a tightrope all the time, spending all this energy and focus trying to use some vague powers to keep his sense of self in his skull and suck it back up when it escaped. The sense of self wasn’t him exactly, but the tingly notion of his whereabouts in his environment and body. The sense of self had a mind of its own, its own greedy id agenda.

Shem’s sense of self was only coming out his ears, not out his mouth or nostrils. Not in a spiritual way, it wasn’t a third eye kind of thing. It was secular.

It was unfair he had to deal with this vague cancer of a sense of self living in his genitals and leaking out his ears.

Shem and Rand were taking a walk at a SportsPlus nature preserve.

“How was the holiday,” said Shem.

There had been a holiday, yesterday.

A national holiday, to be sure.

A big one, an important one, maybe or maybe not a religious one.

Shem didn’t know which holiday had happened or if he had celebrated, with whom. He looked outside to try to guess based on the weather, but the weather looked neutral, temperate. Shem dismissed his ‘curiosity’—he could just look it up on the Internet later.

“It was good thanks I wasn’t myself,” said Rand, “My mom had to make all my meals in camouflage colors. I suppose that was meant to set my mind at equilibrium.”

“How was your holiday jogging,” said Shem.

“I don’t jog,” said Rand.

Shem looked at Rand. So boring, he thought lovingly, so beige.

“How ’bout you,” said Rand, “Were you drunk.”

“Commode-hugging drunk,” said Shem, though he had no idea.

“Me too,” said Rand, “I wasn’t myself. I said I’d jump off my parents’ roof for some reason.”

“I’m glad you didn’t,” Shem said on autopilot.

Shem and Rand started walking a notch faster, it was an unspoken agreement. Shem was thinking about outside. He felt suspicious. He felt like he knew he was in a diorama. Pine needles looked like they were made from outdoor furniture PVC. The sky looked pixelated, like it was on a computer screen. The creek looked like a holographic projection. Wildlife looked animatronic, moved in a robotic way. The sunshine was diluted like mall lighting. The grass was too artificially green, it was overwhelming. Outside looked like inside.

“I need to tell you something,” said Rand.

“Me too,” said Shem, “Outside looks like inside.”

“I’m being serious,” said Rand, “Be serious with me, I need to say something.”

Shem waited to know his opinion. He waited for God to send it to him as a singing telegram in his inner monologue. Nothing visceral was happening in his inner world, there were chaotic and disgusting images rotting inside it but with no emotion attached. He was a 2D dummy, a total idiot made of paper. Shem pictured himself made of paper. Flat Stanley, he thought. He was Flat Stanley. He remembered Flat Stanley.

“I’ve been puking,” said Rand.

“On purpose,” Shem said excitedly.

“No what the fuck of course not on purpose,” said Rand, “The fuck, I’ve had morning sickness and I’ve missed my last two periods.”

Shem diagnosed himself hydrocephalic. Then his God Sized Hole got a little wider and his closed-head-injury-themed dura mater maggots awoke from hibernation and began to feed on the toxic, infected cerebrospinal ooze that also had traces of lead in it and had somehow gotten behind his eyes. That was the liquid controlling his retarded expressions, making his eyebrows go slack with dumbness. Shem knew this information because he had a pang. He knew exactly what was going on.

Blister was Shem’s therapist.

Office appointments with Blister were $300. Shower appointments were $600.

“I can’t be a parent,” said Shem, “I can’t even handle myself. I don’t even know myself.”

Blister squirted cleanser into her hand, lathered it up and started soaping Shem’s face.

“That’s really it Shem, you don’t know yourself,” she said, “But I know you. I see everything.”

Her hands massaged and caressed Shem’s whole face. Scrubbing, scrubbing. Most people in the world scrubbed the exact same way, it was an archetype, a ritual. The cleanser smelled natural, romantic, was hypnotic. Shem closed his eyes. It felt comforting, spurred some heavy energy that ticked off a little box in his God Sized Hole.

“You’re so dirty,” said Blister.

She scrubbed harder. It hurt all good. Shem felt Blister’s lips touch his.

“You’re gonna be better,” she said into his mouth, “You’ll be better and God will deal with it. God will like it.”

Shem so badly wanted to have an opinion. He wanted to know what was wrong with him and that it could, would be fixed. He wanted to feel like there was hope. He wanted to think about the world and sense dimension, substance and consistency.

He felt it would be impossible to know both himself and the world. That was the forever at-ends duality, there was his existence and there was the overwhelming world pulling and chewing on him, this world whose presence he had to accept and swallow quick as it came at him, this world he had to grow bigger and open wider for always, as the only way to appease its constant hits was to be a learner, an eater, a void. He was a hole, a big nothing, a throbbing yawn wandering around an endlessly complicated and yet maximally shallow movie he didn’t belong in. Compensating and lost, always.

Blister was washing Shem’s mouth with soap. Shem stood there unaffected. His little taste buds were sending signals to his brain, telling him he was being poisoned, but he was above biology and knew this was okay. Shem’s mouth filled with bubbles. Bedroom eyes, thought Shem. Then he looked at Blister’s eyes. He was trying to send her the message that he had bedroom eyes and was maybe also trying to extract some bedroom from Blister’s eyes.

“Spit,” said Blister.

Shem spit in the shower. It wasn’t enough. His spastic taste buds were still going off, still firing. His disgusting little nerves. Ooh my soul, thought Shem. He did a rinse-and-spit with the water coming from the shower nozzle. His soapy spit went down the drain. Blister put a hand on Shem’s genitals.

“Everything is gonna be okay.”

Shem wanted his mouth-hole plugged up again. He was and would always be frozen in time because he constantly felt the urge to patch himself like this. He could never move on as a person because he had to keep appeasing these ever-throbbing holes, the theoretical (God Sized) one and the ones that were part of his body, all the little person-holes through which he sucked up the sexy world’s sensuality. He had eyeholes and earholes and noseholes. He had a little mouth-hole, an asshole and a hole in his genitals. He liked to suck up the world’s beauty through his genitals. He liked to suck on Blister’s fingers. The fingers tasted like earthy human but Blister was not New Age no. Shem kissed Blister with tongue. He felt like a child.

Shem was logged in to his Hulu Plus account, buying a season of a show about housewives in Orange County.

I buy the drugs, thought Shem.

He couldn’t wait to start to feel the tickly tickly high in his God Sized Hole.

The show was intellectually stimulating. One of the housewives was looking for her phone. She was not feeling well no. She was angry about someone crashing Last Night’s Party. The crasher had worn a similar dress to the housewife’s. The housewife felt attacked. Someone had come into her house and jeopardized her individuality. The housewife called it ‘Identity Theft.’ Shem could sympathize with that. It was profound.

Shem cared about these housewives deeply. He cared about them more than the people he knew and he cared about them more than himself. They were great people.

Also there was something Shem really loved about the idea of minor problems. Something being wrong with a necklace someone ordered or a guest of honor being late to a gala or someone being dissed in a gossip magazine. There was something intrinsically enticing and seductive about them. ‘That noise’ gave Shem’s phantom notion of a brain a little massage. His little solid. He could sense it.

He was some okay kind of addicted to reality shows–this one with the housewives, Mediation obviously, one where brides competed to get plastic surgery, one where recent college grads (strangers) lived together in a mansion for a few months, one where prepubescent girls did dance competitions, one where prepubescent girls did beauty pageants, a prank thing, a redneck thing, a cooking competition, a modeling competition, a singing competition, a general talent competition. All of these, he knew with his clairvoyant powers, made him a better man. Yep, with every episode, with every minor problem, there was a little metamorphosis that Shem’s imaginary homonculus clone experienced inside of his theoretical torso cocoon. It was like, seasonal. And prickly.

The housewife and the party crasher made up. The crasher had mentioned the housewife in some speech. The episode was over. Everything was all over.

Shem’s eyes didn’t blink. He knew his skull was filling up with cerebrospinal fluid that also had little teeth in it. He was an empty little bowl, which was kind of sweet. He was OFF. He ran on a little ON/OFF switch (he sensed) and he was OFF.

——

Julia Long is a 21-year-old ?something? that ?somehow? got to the northern California coast. Her writing has appeared in Nat. Brut, Thought Catalog, theNewerYork, Electric Cereal, Rawboned and Bizarro Central. Her debut book POLLYANNA will be available from Bottlecap Press later this year.

Why The Human Centipede 3 Might Be Smarter and More Interesting Than the Book You’re Writing and What You Can Do About It

by Garrett Cook

A lot of people told me it would be a bad idea to write a blog post using The Human Centipede 3 to dispense writing advice. So I sewed them together. It’s clearly something that’s done nowadays. Sewing human beings together anus to mouth? Pretty commonplace. Nobody told me I shouldn’t do this. That was a joke. But anyway, you probably think an article full of writing advice using this series is perverse, stupid and a waste of time. The Human Centipede looks like a poo joke that has gone on way too long and should be probably have been shut down…well, three films ago. In certain ways, the film’s writer and director Tom Six would agree with you. Making a movie about a human centipede is, as an idea, about as viable as making an actual human centipede.

Thing is, I saw The Human Centipede 3 and it surprised me a lot. The Human Centipede 3 might be better than the book you’re working on right now. It might be smarter, funnier and more thoughtful. It might have more compelling characters. It might have more tenable and interesting central themes. It might be braver, more intense and more “fun” (everyone’s idea of fun is different. If this makes you projectile vomit, you ain’t havin’ fun). I’m not saying your book is garbage or obsessed with scatology or that it would be better if it was but this film has some lessons to teach.

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It doesn’t matter what a protagonist is up to, you should be rooting for them

The first thing I noticed about The Human Centipede 3 is that you apparently have nobody to root for. The film is set in a prison, whose warden, Bill Boss (Dieter Laser) is like the maniacal lovechild of Charlie Sheen and The Red Skull, with some Boss Hogg thrown in for good measure. He’s a screaming, violent, torture obsessed, clitoris eating (yes, literally that) creep. There is nothing admirable or beautiful about this man. He is one of the most fearsome monsters our penal system could possibly create.

But his longsuffering accountant (played by Laurence Harvey) has a vision and a mission. The film begins with him showing the warden the first two films in the franchise and telling him he has an idea. You know what this character’s idea is. You should be inwardly squirming. Or maybe, if you’re watching this movie to see a Human Centipede (as opposed to watching it to hear the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby) then you’re excited. You watch this character constantly hassled, neglected, shouted at and turned down. He becomes an underdog determined to refine a system that he believes is flawed and disgusting. When you see the warden cause a great deal of carnage and torture, you can see that he certainly is.

The film makes you feel sad for this man. It makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with this warden and it makes you angry that he is not listening to the idea that will change everything. The power to change the world the viewer is inhabiting now falls on the shoulders of this character, who openly displays compassion for the boss’ sexually exploited secretary, who is telling him that torture doesn’t work and is trying to encourage some modicum of stability and sanity. And all this poor, tortured, misunderstood and sensitive creatures wants is a chance to prove himself by sewing several hundred people together ass to mouth.

Wait, what? Are you actually feeling bad for and sitting around waiting for the triumph of a guy who wants to sew several hundred people together ass to mouth? This man has all the traits of a feel good underdog hero. He is beleaguered, he is surrounded by evil people, he is working to change an oppressive system and he needs to reach someone to be heard. This guy is Nikolai Tesla, a man with a dream of a better future who is being stomped on by a corrupt system. He is shouted down so many times for so long, that it doesn’t matter anymore what it is that he has to say, he has become somehow sympathetic.

Characters we love are people we follow the gates of Hell. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is a womanizing drunk firmly entrenched in the military/industrial complex who is trying to save the world with killer robots and a semilegal suit of armor that fires bursts of energy. Enid of Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World is a jaded, cruel, narcissistic, condescending antisocial teen who is twice as mean as any of the people around her and yet she has become a role model and hero to many disenfranchised young women. Al Pacino’s Tony Montana is a guy who we end up feeling for and hoping that he’ll clean up his life and come out on top…even though he deals cocaine and chopped up a guy with a chainsaw that one time. Hell, Bill Moseley and Sid Haig as Otis Driftwood and Captain Spaulding in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects have enough charisma and defiant revolutionary rhetoric that we watch them maim, rape and murder people for two minutes and some of us somehow hope they’ll come out alive. How much can your characters be forgiven for? Will we be curious and sympathetic as they go through their lives on the page? Showing a crooked system, normalized violence and a very identifiable feeling of powerlessness and unimportance makes Bennett someone who you almost root for. Have you done enough to make your characters fascinating and sympathetic or do they fall short? Tom Six had an extremely tough job in getting you to feel for Bennett. That takes skill.

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It Explores a Theme From Several Angles

I must admit, I was not a fan of this franchise before seeing the third one. I felt as if the theme of the films was “Some dude is building a human centipede. Stay the hell away from that guy.” Thing is, The Human Centipede 3 makes one of the franchise’s central themes clear as day. The film begins with the credits of the second film and the accountant showing the warden the films and claiming to have an idea. As I said, it is very clear what the idea is and where he got it. Tom Sixx is taking on a certain level of culpability or else questioning how culpable he is. Either way, he is exploring the culpability of artists for the effects on the viewer.

The first film in the franchise is about the beginning of a bad idea. A mad scientist comes up with the idea to build a human centipede, just as its creator Tom Six has. The centipede is built and the results are disastrous. A bad idea instituted causes harm to the community. But what happens when the bad idea spreads beyond the head of the sicko who has it? What could happen now that Six has released the first work on the public?

Well, the second film addresses this question. Larry, the viewer has become obsessed with the film. In the grim, abusive circumstances of his life, he has decided that building a human centipede is his only chance at power and respect. The bad idea exists and the bad idea has become virulent. He acts upon it, luring an actress from the first film into becoming a part of this centipede. The idea has become a horrible reality. The second film questions the consequences of unleashing a piece of art on the public, creating a scenario where film violence becomes real violence but only in an actually violent circumstance. This is a pretty solid statement about film violence’s effects on our lives. The movie does not suggest violence occurs in a vacuum or that it’s completely harmless to see film violence.

The third brings up what happens when the idea of instituted violence comes into contact with the public, and even further, how a bad idea gets instituted in the large scale. Forget about doing it once, The Human Centipede 3 posits that it could be done hundreds of times to hundreds of people. The third film shows an environment where people encounter the possibility of doing that thing they saw in the movie. The first film does not inherently suggest that you can build a human centipede if you’re not an insane scientist. The second film says “nope, bad ideas can effect anyone.” When we accuse the human centipede of being a bad idea, Tom Six says “no shit, a human centipede is a bad idea.” He even slyly hints at it being a bad idea through the warden and the prisoners in the prison around it.

The prisoners in the third film are disgusted by the film, just as the warden is. Six is indicating and admitting “yes, it is a perfectly valid, sane response to be disgusted by this idea. It is a bad idea.” But wait…doesn’t the willingness to explore this bad idea, to go through with it so thoroughly and to examine its potential show that maybe this piece isn’t about human centipedes at all and that maybe this lack of intelligence, this lack of reverence and this lack of vision that critics and viewers have accused Six of might be a lot less well founded than it seems?

The painting below, The Treachery of Images is by the surrealist Rene Magritte. It makes a statement that on the surface seems apocryphal. It says that this is not a pipe. Some of you look at it and think “of course this is a goddamn pipe. What are you, stupid?” But when you step away and reconsider the statement, you realize that Magritte is right. This is no pipe. Try lighting it and smoking it. What? You can’t? That’s because this is the image of a pipe. To say The Human Centipede is about Human Centipedes would be to light and smoke Magritte’s pipe. As I have reiterated, the films show the process of hermeneutic movement using a very concrete example of a virulent idea and exploring it to the terminus of it, exploring it further than it probably should be explored. Tom Six even shows up in the third film saying he wants to see the surgery performed. Why? Because this must be seen through to the bitter end, even if it makes Six puke.

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When you look at the complexity of your own work, you cannot pretend to exist in a world that does not have narrative mad science like this. We cannot brag about skateboards in times of jetpacks. Tom Six made three films about the idea of creating a human centipede. Burroughs said that language was a virus from outer space and across three films, Tom Six showed us this virus incubating and spreading to the populace. While the execution may look flawed in the live action Ren and Stimpy denouement to the trilogy, the intricacy of the undertaking cannot be overlooked. Nor can the commercial viability of these explorations.

Does your book take its content and examine the themes and ideas behind it as boldly and interestingly as it can? You can tell a story that says that violence is bad or you can wave violence into your narrative and constantly reveal the problematics of violence. You can do as Burgess and Kubrick do with A Clockwork Orange and show the temptation and the decision-making process behind violence instead of simply lecturing your reader on the ugliness of this behavior. The Human Centipede ambitiously encodes its message in its walls and structure across three gory and insane films. Stories like this call out artists to be this smart and daring, regardless of consequence.

Examine how you tell your story and think about how you can weave the messages and themes into the structure and imagery instead of just into the plot and dialogue. This takes “show don’t tell” to a whole new level.

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It Evokes A Response

Audacity and quality are not necessarily one and the same. Plenty of transgressive art will fall short aesthetically and intellectually. Just because music is loud doesn’t make it cool. Just because there are tits and gore doesn’t make you edgy. But when a certain level of visceral response occurs, you have to look into what pissed people off. Critics giving out a number of zero star reviews to a piece that is not clearly Dude Where’s My Car 2 or a remake of Breakin’ should be a giant semaphore flag that shit is going down that bears paying attention to. When we see zero star reviews from disgust and confusion, that’s a trail to sniff down.

When audiences first encountered Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou, things were thrown at the screen, raw outrage conquered the theaters. The outraged prisoners in The Human Centipede 3 were not unlike the crowd who encountered Bunuel and Dali’s surrealist masterpiece. The director Pasolini was killed in the street for his transgressive films and in your face homosexuality. Frankenstein, Night of the Living Dead and the Exorcist all turned stomachs. While the turned stomachs, critical revulsion and utter contempt for The Human Centipede movies does not insure their merit, they do beg a question.

Do people care this much about what you’re doing? Carlton Mellick’s book The Baby Jesus Butt Plug riled up an angry mob on The Blaze last year. It was not the first angry mob, it was not the last. Christians were calling for a boycott because it was being taught in a class, used as an example of the excesses of the left wing intellectuals. The fact that something could be grotesque and blasphemous and yet used as a teaching tool evoked a natural revulsion in these people. The grotesque is supposed to just be there for perverts to jerk off to or idiots to spit mouths full of Big Mac at as they guffaw at their computer screen. It is not supposed to be studied, dissected or understood. It is not supposed to have themes, it’s just supposed to make people feel grossed out. Right? Right?

The combination of smart and grotesque will always evoke a response. The fact the brain and the viscera can be engaged and at odds is a problem for critics and a lot of viewers and a conflict that does not resolve itself simply and cleanly. As I said, it is not a guarantee of merit but it is certainly evidence a piece shouldn’t be ignored and discarded. Something that can invoke that much hate and revulsion without being propaganda for something hateful and repulsive must be hitting some kind of nerve or must be using something repulsive to show you the inherent repulsiveness of an idea, a process or a condition of society.

So, before you stop and judge a grotesque for fulfilling the purpose of grotesquerie, you should stop and make the inquiry of your own art. Does your erotica make people cum? If the answer’s no, why the fuck not? Does your horror boil people’s blood and elevate their heart rates? If no, then why the fuck not? Does your weirdness stretch people’s perception and confuse them? If no, then why the fuck not? Carlton Mellick, Bunuel and Tom Six didn’t hold back or question the conviction behind the idea or worry that it would be too weird or too sexy or too intense. They flat out fucking did it. Before judging those who have churned stomachs or confused critics, ask “do I have this much conviction in my story?”

Sew some motherfuckers together. You’ll be glad you did.

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Garrett Cook is the Wonderland Award winning author of TIME PIMP, JIMMY PLUSH: TEDDY BEAR DETECTIVE, MURDERLAND, ARCHELON RANCH, and numerous short stories and non-fiction pieces. 

Wonderland Book Award Preliminary Voting Begins Now

Voting for the Wonderland Book Award preliminary ballot begins now for the Best Bizarro Novel and Best Bizarro Collection of 2014. Please send your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place votes in the Novel and Collection categories to bizarrocon@gmail.com with the subject line “Wonderland Book Award Preliminary Ballot.” Preliminary voting ends July 31st.
NOTE TO AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS: Please do not solicit or campaign for votes.

NOVELS/NOVELLAS

Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich by David Agranoff

Deep Blue by Brian Auspice

The Fairy Princess of Trains by Christopher Boyle

American Monster by J.S. Breukelaar

The Last Horror Novel in the History of the World by Brian Allen Carr

Day of the Milkman by S.T. Cartledge

Leprechaun in the Hood: The Musical: A Novel by Adam Cesare, Shane McKenzie, and Cameron Pierce

Superghost by Scott Cole

Musclebound Mario by Kevin L. Donihe

The Bikings by P.A. Douglas

Captain K and the Bearded Man Boy by P.A. Douglas

King Dollar by Andre Duza

Repo Shark by Cody Goodfellow

Naked Friends by Justin Grimbol

I, Slutbot by Mykle Hansen

Zombie Park by Kent Hill

Hell’s Waiting Room by C.V. Hunt

Dungeons & Drag Queens by MP Johnson

Journey to Abortosphere by Kirk Jones

Long Lost Dog of It by Michael Kazepis

The Last Projector by David James Keaton

Terence, Mephisto, and Viscera Eyes by Chris Kelso

Atmospheres by Jon Konrath

Pax Titanus by Tom Lucas

Pus Junkies by Shane McKenzie

Toilet Baby by Shane McKenzie

Hungry Bug by Carlton Mellick III

Sweet Story by Carlton Mellick III

The Tick People by Carlton Mellick III

Pink Planet by Jon R. Meyers

Hamsterdamned! By Adam Millard

The Human Santapede by Adam Millard

Vinyl Destination by Adam Millard

Green Lights by Kyle Muntz

Hearers of the Constant Hum by William Pauley III

Dodgeball High by Bradley Sands

The Fun We’ve Had by Michael J Seidlinger

Mother of a Machine Gun by Michael J Seidlinger

Bigfoot Cop by Kevin Shamel

Slaughtertown Circus by K.M. Tepe

Big Trouble in Little Ass by Wol-vriey

The Fly Queen by Wol-vriey

A Lightbulb’s Lament by Grant Wamack

The Farrowing by Jesse Wheeler

Douglass: The Lost Biography by D. Harlan Wilson

Freud: The Penultimate Biography by D. Harlan Wilson

Hitler: The Terminal Biography by D. Harlan Wilson

COLLECTIONS

I Like Turtles by G. Arthur Brown

Misery and Death and Everything Depressing by C.V. Hunt

Flamingos in the Ashtray by Zoltan Komor

Paramourn by John Edward Lawson

I’ll Fuck Anything That Moves…And Stephen Hawking by Violet LeVoit

Our Blood in its Blind Circuit by J. David Osborne

Demons in the TV by Christoph Paul

Creep House by Anderson Prunty

Murder Stories for Your Brain Piece by Kevin Strange

Stranger Danger by Kevin Strange and Danger Slater

The Filing Cabinet of Doom by Madeleine Swann

Goddamn Electric Nights by William Pauley III

Junkyard Exotic by Grant Wamack

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